Photo Credit: John Sullivan

Willow Run has a deep history of innovation and was initially built by Henry Ford as an advanced aircraft manufacturing facility during World War II. It was redeveloped by General Motors in the 1950s as a powertrain plant that operated until 2010.

Riveting a center wing section for a B-24E (Liberator) bomber in the horizontal position at Ford’s big Willow Run plant.  National Archives and Records Administration, 196387.

Now, it will become the premiere national facility for mobility and advanced automotive testing and product development.

The center is uniquely positioned to accommodate the broad needs of industry and government with its capabilities to test vehicles, roads, infrastructure and communication systems, while providing room to grow and adapt as technology dictates. The site comes with a number of desirable features and structures already in place including double overpasses, a railroad crossing and a highway loop to test at sustained highway speeds. Testing can occur during all four seasons, day and night, in sun, rain, ice and snow. These elements help to create the perfect environment for testing and setting national standards for mobility technologies before vehicles and other products are deployed. The center will also serve as a development facility that will allow companies to lease space for office and research use, garages and other amenities.

The American Center for Mobility will expand the region’s business incubation and acceleration capabilities while bringing great economic opportunity to southeast Michigan and the United States.

The reactivation of the Willow Run site reinforces Michigan’s global position as the automotive leader while creating new innovations that will drive the future of mobility.

Toyota to Collaborate with the American Center for Mobility

 

$5 million contribution to support Connected and Automated Vehicle technology development

 

Traverse City, Mich. (July 31, 2017) – Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) and the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced today their intent to support the American Center for Mobility (ACM) as a Founder-level sponsor with a $5 million contribution.

As an ACM contributor, Toyota will be a member of a government-industry team which supports ACM initiatives to create a large-scale test environment in Southeast Michigan where various companies can test their Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) technologies. Toyota believes the creation of this unique test environment will help support the development acceleration of innovative CAV technologies, because it allows technologies testing under a safe and controlled environment.

Toyota believes this initiative will foster further innovation through collaboration with government and academic partners. Toyota hopes that ACM serves as a catalyst for safer and more efficient transportation solutions with vehicles equipped with advanced CAV technologies.

“We are excited to be the first automaker joining this effort to create a test ground for advanced vehicle technologies in our backyard,” said Jeff Makarewicz, Group Vice President Safety and Vehicle Performance at TMNA Research & Development Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Together with industry and government partners, we would like to set a direction to realize connected and automated vehicles to help improve safety and mobility.”

“As we move forward with the development of autonomous cars, we must remember that not all test miles are created equal,” said Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute. “The road to creating a car as safe, or safer, than a human driver will require billions of test miles including simulation, real-world driving on public roads, and closed-course testing where we can expose our systems to extreme circumstances and conditions. The new ACM closed-course facility is a significant step forward in this journey and will accelerate our ability to help prevent crashes and save lives.”

​”I’m excited about our collaboration with Toyota,” said John Maddox, President and CEO of the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run. “Today’s announcement is another example of Toyota’s forward-looking vision and ability to move quickly on developing this potentially beneficial connected and automated technology.”

“Toyota’s long history of research and development in Michigan is impressive, as is their continuing commitment to this state and its people,” said Governor Rick Snyder. “Thanks to Toyota’s collaboration with ACM, Michigan can continue to maintain its momentum as a global leader in the ever-expanding transition from being the automotive capital to being the mobility capital.”
“Toyota deserves our thanks and praise for this significant investment in the American Center for Mobility,” said Congresswomen Debbie Dingell of Michigan. “This is not only an investment in ACM, but is another strong sign that Michigan continues to lead the way in the future of mobility and innovation. Toyota has long been a responsible corporate partner in Michigan and this is yet another example of their commitment to our state and our workers.”

About Toyota Motor North America
Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMNA), headquartered in Plano, Texas, brings together Toyota’s marketing, sales, engineering and manufacturing arms in North America. It is wholly owned by Toyota Motor Corporation. Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in the U.S. and North America for 60 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands. During that time, Toyota has created a tremendous value chain as our teams have contributed to world-class design, engineering, and assembly of more than 33 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 46,000 people (more than 36,000 in the U.S.). Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold almost 2.7 million cars and trucks (2.45 million in the U.S.) in 2016 – and about 85 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today.

Toyota partners with community, civic, academic, and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We share company resources and extensive know-how to support non-profits to help expand their ability to assist more people move more places. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com.

About Toyota Research Institute
Toyota Research Institute is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor North America under the direction of Dr. Gill Pratt. The company, established in 2015, aims to strengthen Toyota’s research structure and has four initial mandates: 1) enhance the safety of automobiles, 2) increase access to cars to those who otherwise cannot drive, 3) translate Toyota’s expertise in creating products for outdoor mobility into products for indoor mobility, and 4) accelerate scientific discovery by applying techniques from artificial intelligence and machine learning. TRI is based in the United States, with offices in Los Altos, Calif., Cambridge, Mass., and Ann Arbor, Mich. For more information about TRI, please visit www.tri.global.

About The American Center for Mobility
The American Center for Mobility is a non-profit testing, education and product development facility for future mobility, designed to enable safe validation and self-certification of connected and automated vehicle technology, and to accelerate the development of voluntary standards. ACM is part of the Planet M collaborative that represents Michigan’s unique infrastructure and leading role in transforming how people and goods are transported. Planet M members include public-private partnerships and collaborative programs with the common goal of positively contributing to the reinvention of the transportation industry. To learn more about ACM, please visit www.acmwillowrun.org.

Media Contacts:
Brian R. Lyons
Sr. Manager, Corporate Communications
Toyota Motor North America
brian.lyons@Toyota.com
(469) 292-3573

John Hanson
Director, Communications & Public Affairs
Toyota Research Institute
john.hanson@tri.global
(657) 331-1291

American Center for Mobility Media Contact:
Jenni Omness
(248) 203-8142
JOmness@webershandwick.com